"What for? The ambulance came, you were already gone."
"I hate to break this to you," Alice says, "but if you drive
away from the scene of an accident, it becomes a hit-and-run. If I were
"But I wasn't running from anything. I drove straight here to the hospital.
To see how you were."
"The police may look at that differently. Get on your cell phone again,
dial 911, and tell them -- "
"Is it broken?" Jennifer asks, looking down at the cast.
"Yes, it's broken."
"You shouldn't have come around that corner so fast. There's a stop sign
there. You should have at least slowed down."
"I did. But you walked right into the car."
"You seemed to be in some kind of a fog."
"Is that what you're going to tell the cops? That I was in some kind of
"I'm not going to tell the cops anything."
"Well, I am," Alice says.
"Because I've had experience with insurance companies, thanks. And there
are going to be hospital bills, and I want to go on record about what happened
here. Especially if you're going to claim I was in a fog and walked into your
"I even blew my horn at you. You just kept walking."
"Jennifer, it was nice of you to come here, really, but I am
going to report this to the police. You'd be smart to call them first. Otherwise
you might find yourself facing criminal charges."
"Oh, don't be silly," Jennifer says. "Have you got a ride
"No, but I'll call my office. My car's -- "
"I'd be happy to give you a ride."
Alice looks at her.
"My car's at the office," she says. "On Mapes Avenue. If you
can take me there..."
"Oh sure," Jennifer says, and grins like a kid with a lollipop.
She doesn't get back to her house on the mainland until almost four that
afternoon. She has extracted from Jennifer the promise that she will call the
police, but she is eager to call them herself as well. She knows all about
claims. She has filed enough insurance claims since Eddie drowned.
North Oleander Street resembles a jungle through which a narrow asphalt road
has been laid and left to deteriorate. A sign at the street's opening reads dead
end, appropriate in that North Oleander runs for two blocks before it becomes an
oval that turns the street back upon itself in the opposite direction. Lining
these two short blocks are twelve shingled houses with the sort of
glass-louvered windows you could find all over Cape October in the good old days
before it became a tourist destination for folks from the Middle West and
Canada. The houses here are virtually hidden from view by a dense growth of
dusty cabbage palm and palmetto, red bougainvillea, purple bougainvillea, white
bougainvillea growing in dense profusion, sloppy pepper trees, pink oleander,
golden allamanda, trailing lavender lantana, rust-colored shrimp plants, yellow
hibiscus, pink hibiscus, red hibiscus, eponymous bottlebrush trees with long red
flowers -- and here and there, the one true floral splendor of Cape October, the
bird-of-paradise with its spectacular orange and bluish-purple crest.
Rosie Garrity greets her at the front door.
Round-faced and stout, in her fifties, wearing a flowered housedress and a
white blouse, she glances down at Alice's foot, shakes her head, and says,
"What happened to you?"
"I got run over," Alice says.
"Is it broken?"
"The ankle, yes. Where are the kids?"
"I thought maybe you'd picked them up."
"What do you mean?"
"They weren't on the bus."
"Oh dear," Alice says. "Was there a mix-up again?"
She limps into the kitchen, takes the phone from its wall bracket over the
pass-through counter, and dials the school's number by heart. Someone in the
administrative office picks up on the third ring.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...